Lawrence O’Donnell on Monday accused congressional Republicans of nothing more than political theater in their responses to the FBI text scandal. He treated the texts as a sideshow, and he attempted to present Republicans as hypocrites by comparing their criticisms of the FBI at a congressional hearing to their own criticisms of Donald Trump.
Starting out the segment, O’Donnell described how “Republican senators at the hearing were pretending to be just shocked and outraged that some FBI agents' texts revealed that those FBI agents were strongly opposed to Donald Trump's candidacy.” To O’Donnell, any concerns about the impartiality of the FBI were clearly feigned for political points. He reiterated mockingly, “How dare an FBI agent be against candidate Trump,” neglecting to mention that the FBI agent in question, Peter Strzok, was a lead investigator not only into Hillary Clinton but also Russian meddling.
He then went on to juxtapose clips of Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Ted Cruz questioning Inspector General Horowitz about the comments with clips of them criticizing Trump. Describing Ted Cruz, tongue-in-cheek, as “just outraged by those FBI agents,” he showed Cruz questioning the I.G. about Strzok’s use of “an FBI device to call President Trump a quote, 'f-ing idiot,' although I don’t believe he abbreviated it, 'a loathsome human and a disaster.'
O’Donnell, aping incredulity, asked “An idiot and a disaster. Who would ever say things like that?” He then showed a clip of Cruz during the primary elections saying of Trump, “This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies,” trying to draw a line between Cruz’s comments and those of the FBI agent. Never mind the important distinction that one was a politician running against Trump under full public scrutiny while the other was supposed to be running an unbiased investigation into both campaigns behind the scenes.
Never mind, also, that the I.G. himself has expressed serious concern about the conduct of the FBI agents in question. In response to texts that seemed to suggest the FBI agents wishing to prevent Trump’s election, the I.G. said that he could not “imagine FBI agents even suggesting that they would use their powers to investigate any candidate for office. I thought this was completely antithetical to the core values of the department.”
Partisan divides have widened so far that O’Donnell cannot accept even legitimate criticisms of the FBI without attempting to launch a full-on assault against Republicans.
The full transcript can be found below:
The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell
10:33:23 PM-10:35:27 PM
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: And some Republican senators at the hearing were pretending to be just shocked and outraged that some FBI agents' texts revealed that those FBI agents were strongly opposed to Donald Trump's candidacy for president during the presidential campaign. How dare an FBI agent be against candidate Trump. Here is Senator Lindsey Graham in full outrage today about those FBI agents.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: Here's what Ms. Page said on March the 4th, 2016. “God, Trump is a loathsome human.” How do you feel about that? I mean, she's entitled to her opinion.
MICHAEL HOROWITZ: I think we’ve laid out here why we were so concerned about it.
O’DONNELL: And here is that same Lindsey Graham offering his opinion about Donald Trump during the presidential campaign about the very same time that those FBI agents were offering their opinions.
GRAHAM: Looking back, we should have basically kicked him out of the party. The more you know about Donald Trump, the less likely you are to vote for him. The more you know about his business enterprises, the less successful he looks. The more you know about his political giving, the less Republican he looks.
O’DONNELL: And, here is Senator Ted Cruz, today, just outraged by those FBI agents.
TED CRUZ: In late 2015 and in 2016, when Mr. Strzok was in charge, he used an FBI device to call President Trump a quote, “f-ing idiot,” although I don’t believe he abbreviated it, “a loathsome human and a disaster.”
O’DONNELL: An idiot and a disaster. Who would ever say things like that? And here is Ted Cruz during the presidential campaign at about the same time that those FBI agents sent those texts.
CRUZ: This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth.